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Mass Layoffs

Paul Glavic/MEDILL

Mass layoff actions in the U.S. have decreased during each of the past two months.

Mass layoffs decline but not in manufacturing

by Paul Glavic
Feb 26, 2013

In January, U.S. employers conducted the fewest mass layoffs since August despite ongoing downsizing in the manufacturing industry.

A total of 1,328 mass layoff actions in January affected 134,026 workers, according to a Tuesday report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The figures reflect the fewest mass layoff actions in five months and the fewest affected workers since September. There were 181 fewer layoffs in January than in December, and the number of associated initial claims decreased by 3,813.

California, North Carolina, Alabama and New York posted the highest number of mass layoff actions in the nation. Illinois’ 53 mass layoffs represented the 11th highest figure in the nation.

John Challenger, CEO of Chicago-based executive placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said that while the public might consider a six-figure layoffs statistic to be a negative reflection of the U.S. economy, he believes the numbers in their full context signal a positive outlook.

“I think people would be surprised to see this many mass layoff events even though, generally, compared to more turbulent months, these are relatively light,” Challenger said.

While the overall trend in January was positive, manufacturing sector layoffs increased when taking seasonal adjustments into account.

Manufacturing employers conducted 357 mass layoff events in January, which resulted in 43,068 initial unemployment claims — a 22 percent increase from 35,211 claims in the previous month.

“It does highlight the difficulties manufacturing is facing now, particularly with such a high percentage of layoffs — they had 31 percent of the overall claims,” Challenger said.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ report focuses on seasonally adjusted statistics that consider regularly occurring events such as changes in the weather, holidays, and the beginning and end of the school year. Removing seasonal adjustments, the number of mass layoff events in January was 1,528 and resulted in 144,517 initial claims for unemployment.